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Stress from wife’s recurrent last minute drama

  • 06-12-2020 1:48pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭


    Is there any way to change a pattern of behaviour which essentially puts everything off and then explodes into the mother of all last minute dramas when it’s getting near/past time to go/for visitors to arrive?

    She has always been like this. It was always a stress in our relationship. However, there was always time together and intimacy to counter it. Now, for a variety of reasons, those kindnesses aren’t there so all I’m left with are these bruising dramas. It’s getting very hollow and wearing. This morning, expletives were thrown at me, along with a fist raised in the air, because I dared to suggest that she should have stayed up last night to do the work with me and there wouldn’t be this stress. She lost the plot. I had stayed up late last night; she fell asleep upstairs. So this morning the place was chaos and not a happy environment for the kids witnessing it. I won’t get an apology for this latest outburst, either. At any rate, I’d prefer change to an apology.

    Is there any sort of personality type or psychological analysis which would help me understand this sort of ‘put on the long finger’ mentality? It’s like some sort of adrenalin junkie, except it’s not for adventures but just for every single time deadline in daily life. It’s as if there’s a genuine inability to engage with time and deadlines and plan ahead. I’ve been watching for years and it seems like a genuine inability to anticipate a consequence of procrastination even five or ten minutes ahead. Or can people like this ever accept the stress they create and change? Thank you.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,667 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa


    Some people are very bad planners.

    My wife is a bit like that, but not all the time or to the extreme of your example. Sometimes she’ll put a massive effort into the wrong thing - like tidying a bedroom when there’s visitors coming over, even though they’re never going to go upstairs and downstairs is a mess. I’m not going to attempt to define a personality type, but some people just don’t know how to be organised. Some are great at procrastinating, some are great at “busy work”. Both approaches end in panic, stress and recrimination.

    One thing I will say, though, is that I’ve found that saying “you should have done x” is never ever helpful. If you’re at the stage where the panic has started, then it’s too late to do anything about it. Yesterday was the time to bring the situation up: “we have visitors coming tomorrow, and we both need to prepare for them now. We’ll have a much more enjoyable day if we get stuck in and don’t leave it until the last minute”.

    If you’re anything like me, there was probably an element of you being a bit of a martyr, resentfully doing all the work last night while you let her sleep - fully in the knowledge that today things would explode, but that you would have the “high ground”. I’ve learned that the high ground is of no advantage. Lead by example, nip situation like this in the bud, but don’t expect anyone to admit to failings that you facilitate. That’s my personal experience anyway.


  • Registered Users Posts: 379 ✭✭popa smurf


    Had a good few of these down through the years OP but have mellowed a bit as years went on and kids got bigger and easier, my own upbringing was strict, army like never late for anything, everything organized time set to leave time to be there but these deadline were all in my own head and not very important, OH family a bit chaotic a bit laid back always late but that's just the way they are. Don't stress the small stuff OP is my advice.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,343 ✭✭✭Jb1989


    Only an opinion, but are you definitely sure it's not you, thats too strict for deadlines and such? Maybe your makeing a bigger deal out of everything being perfect, like in ocd sorta way? Nearly need an outsider to study is it you thats ocd or her that's just bad at being organised.


  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser


    Have a read up on executive dysfunction and see does it ring a bell often an aspect of attention deficit disorders and autism, manifests differently in women than men. Is the drama in fact a "meltdown "?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,676 ✭✭✭strandroad


    Who's mostly looking after the kids and chores? I've seen such behaviour in parents (especially young or stay at home) around me time and time again, you live in the moment and have no capacity left to plan.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,023 ✭✭✭Gruffalux


    My mother was like that when I was growing up. She grew out of it with age Any event was a nightmare because of her going to high doh just in advance. Christmas. Birthdays. Visitors. Days out.
    It is very stressful for children to witness and it is what one remembers. Being on tenterhooks before nice things. Living on the qui vive. Dread in the belly. It affects ones outlook on important parts of life.
    Maybe you could tell her that. In a quiet moment tell her the truth. Tell her it is unpleasant for the children and conditions them deep down in relation to what should be pleasant events like having visitors. Sometimes one partner has to firmly tell the other to do better.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,817 ✭✭✭Darc19


    I'd get an appointment with your gp and talk it out with him.

    Possibly it's menopause, possibly it's something more deeply rooted and in the area of bipolar.

    A good gp will have an idea. If the gp is same for both of you, he/she may take note for her next visit and try and get her to say something.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,377 ✭✭✭Airyfairy12


    Id be like this too, I leave everything to the last minute. I got through college by completing all assignments at once, days before submition date. Dpnt know how I managed to get a degree.
    A therapist told me its a symptom of perfectionism. I dont know how accurate that is but it's food for thought.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,232 ✭✭✭Elessar


    Is this the only type of challenging behaviour you've witnessed with your wife? I'd be willing to bet it isn't. Could be a symptom of a larger issue. Doesn't mean there is anything wrong with her, just that patterns of behaviour tend to play out in many areas. A family member is similar, always late for everything and always a panic last minute around deadlines for visitors or appointments etc. which drives her stress levels through the roof and leaves everyone around her very anxious and stressed because of the related behaviour. Do you find it's like walking on eggshells around her, and some other times too?

    Reason I ask is because I too knew very well the stress of these times because she could blow up any second. That was what I noticed first. It wasn't until I attended a therapist and brought it up with her that she suggested I look up borderline personality disorder. And it was a lightbulb moment. This family member ticks basically all the boxes. You could never say this to her obviously, as it would cause an eruption and she would be extremely hurt (people with it are hyper sensitive and lash out easily, it stems from a deep seated fear of being abandoned).

    Your wife might not have anything like that at all but maybe see if similar challenging behaviour happens at other times and keep an open mind. In my experience extreme behaviours are not just isolated to one type of event.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,909 ✭✭✭Jequ0n


    If there are no repercussions there is no need to change anything.
    When she has a “meltdown” do you jump in and help out/ save the situation?
    Let her burn next time so she needs to sort it out herself...
    Most people don’t change unless they have to


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,942 ✭✭✭bilbot79


    <Mod Snip - Do not post links to videos, they are banned in this forum>


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 12,449 ✭✭✭✭pwurple


    I have this a bit in our family too. I'm the planner, spouse is the procrastinator. I remember well the panic stations, bad temper, bashing about the place doing a million things badly instead of taking their time.


    I manage it by doing the planning for them. If something is coming up, I break it down into mini tasks and mark it onto the calendar with days. Procrastinators work far better using the agile methodologies. Sprints, epics and backlogs, if you've used those at work. The big tasks seem insurmountable and so they dread it until it can't be ignored. Turn it into small bites and it's more achievable.

    Simple example is getting a room refloored. I know the date the contractor is arriving, and we need to clear the room beforehand. This would left to that morning if I left it to them. But, we need another space rearranged to make space for the furniture coming out. I make that a task and assign a deadline date the week before for it. Clearing task is set for 2 days before, or maybe broken in smaller bits (rubbish disposal, cleaning or whatever). You get the idea. Manage it yourself as it's a skill they don't have.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,702 ✭✭✭zoobizoo


    ADD.......the long finger, procrastination, inability to plan, can only look work in a panic.....


  • Registered Users Posts: 163 ✭✭CivilCybil


    Like Pwurple, in my marriage I'm the organised one and he's the procrastinator.

    When we lived together first it used to drive me crazy and we were stuck in a cycle of me getting angry with him for being disorganised and him feeling crap for letting me down etc.
    I realised I either had to learn to live with it or end it because I can't change him. Ironically one of the things l love most about him is how easy going he is, how carefree and fun etc. It seems like the thing I love about him is a double edged sword.

    He improved with age but a lot of it is me getting us into a routine. So we always do certain household things on certain days (eg grocery shopping). I got a cleaner for a few hours twice a week and it's worth every penny if it's an option.
    We fell into certain jobs that suit us. His are more visible and obvious such as emptying the bins or doing the washing up. If he can see it, it's more likely to be done. Mine are the ones that take planning and organising like paying bills and cooking/doing grocery list.
    We play to our strengths.
    If we had to do a specific task by a certain day (such as cleaning spare room for guests) I start the organisation days before by talking to him and agreeing an evening.
    So I'll say to him room has to be cleaned by Friday. Will we do it when we're both off on Wednesday. He'll usually agree and then on Wednesday morning I'll get a time from him.
    Sometimes he looks to put it off in which case I'd say ok but it has to be done after dinner on Thursday night. When that time comes I'll say "c'mon we've to clean the spare room"

    Don't get me wrong it gets frustrating as hell at times to have to spoon feed him all the time. To have to always remember the things. But I just try to remember it's the flip side of the things I love.
    I'm sure my micro managing annoys him too but he loves how independent and organised I am and that's the flip side to my personality traits.

    I would say her raising her hand is completely unacceptable and should not happen no matter how stressed and frustrated she gets. I will also say our tempers used to be a lot shorter and we were both quicker to anger when our kids were small due to tiredness and being overwhelmed. As kids get older things do get easier usually.


  • Registered Users Posts: 939 ✭✭✭bitofabind


    My mother was like this and I can tell you as her daughter, planning ahead and mapping things out is something I've struggled with as a result.

    What I can say might be relevant is for my mum and now for me it was that we were fire-fighting and reacting to things as they happened in very chaotic environments, and then burning out and losing the capability to take a measured approach to things that needed to be done. It's a learned behaviour, so when things are quiet and there's the luxury of available time to get organised, you don't know what that even looks like, so the pattern of chaos continues.

    What helps for me is two things:
    - Keeping To Do lists and importantly, prioritising tasks on that list
    - Integrating each task into a calendar with reminders for each one

    So lets say, the O'Sullivans are coming over for Christmas dinner, break that event down into a list. E.G clean sitting room, pick up turkey, wash good cutlery, plan menu, get groceries, get new wine glasses, etc. Put a date beside each task and plot them all on a calendar - a physical one on the wall will be good. Put reminders in a week/day ahead of the 'urgent' ones, as life will happen and other things will come up. Agree with your wife that this is now your "system" for running the household.

    Getting your wife's buy-in to this is crucial, as nothing works until she agrees she's struggling and needs help. A conversation might be needed and empathy is key here. Trust me, living in chaos is not fun but also something she's probably used to because she knows no other way. It can feel really overwhelming and lonely to live like this. Don't criticise or blame. Express you're worried about her and are here to support.


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